Croatia Day 2: Split

… Continued from Croatia Day 1: Dubrovnik

Day 2 in Croatia was all about a bus ride from Dubrovnik to Split, and exploring Split’s charming Old Town.

The Highlights

  • The bus ride started at 8a.m. from Dubrovnik’s main bus station or the Autobusni Kolodvor. The ride was quite comfortable with beautiful seaside views. The road would rise to a height and then slowly slope down to sea level revealing sometime cliffs and sometime beaches with pretty villages nestled in between. The bus itself was clean and seats were snug. It wasn’t very crowded so we could choose to sit where we liked. The journey took some 4 hours and I was able to catch some shut-eye on the way.
  • Our hotel was at a super convenient location. Right next to the bus stand / railway station, and just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre and the Split Old Town. The room was decently equipped and the balcony had a great view. All for one night’s stay, I’d say it was a steal.
  • Diocletian’s palace, built by the Romans far back in the 4th century AD is the Old Town of Split! This is a town masquerading as a palace or perhaps the other way round, but all in all, it’s just not possible to separate one from the other. There are homes sharing palace walls, restaurants in royal courtyards, and stores in the arched pathways leading to ancient temples. It’s a wonderland, I tell you!
  • The palace basements were just another bonus on our Game of Thrones journey. These are supposed to have been completely filled with debris and waste over time and have been recently undergoing massive restoration and reconstruction. The basements are the site that serve as the Meereenese catacombs where Daenerys locks up her  dragons after they kill a child and threaten to become dangerous. Mr.A and I were so excited, we were nearly jumping in our seats while watching the recent Season 6 episode when Tyrion unlocks the dragon’s shackles😀
  • The marina was another absolutely gorgeous place. After our afternoon full of walking the cobbled streets of the Palace, we rested for a while with our feet dangling inches above the water. We watched a seaplane take off, which was a first. We sat at a pretty cafe for coffee and some delicious cake, one of them called Miss Berry, how cute! We also walked into an information centre and met the sweetest people at the counter who talked about their delightful city with such love, and also advised us on our trip ahead. The beautiful palm trees, the spring flowers, the city wall on the one side and the blue water on the other side, made it the perfect stroll to end our day in Split.

The Flipsides

  • Sigh! We could surely have spent more time in this beautiful city! But we had so much more exploring to do, we decided to look forward to the next day’s itinerary :)

Coming up soon! Croatia Day 3: Trogir, Klis, Salona, Zadar

Croatia Day 1: Dubrovnik 

Mr.A and I went road-tripping across Croatia, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! This trip checks off nr.3 on our 2016 wishlist, after  Berlin and Prague, isn’t that awesome?!

Day 1 was Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic. And it’s proved itself rightly so during our first day in this beautiful city. Actually, I should begin with Day 0 which was spent in three flights, Stockholm-Istanbul, Istanbul-Zagreb and finally Zagreb-Dubrovnik. It was a long day but the happy anticipation of the trip ahead kept us so pumped up. We arrived at our cozy hotel which was right by the Pile Gate and settled in to start off our adventure next morning.

The Highlights

  • The city walls were definitely a high point. The entry fee is 120 Kuna. Euros are not accepted, so be sure to get some local currency. It’s a cool experience to walk atop this ancient structure, barely 2Km all around, there are only a few steps to climb up and down. It’s fun to get a different perspective of the buildings and streets from a vantage point. The views are extremely scenic, both of the Adriatic Sea on the one hand, and the trademark tiled rooftops of Dubrovnik on the other. I must have clicked a thousand photos! Can’t blame me, you’d feel the same😉

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  • The food was yummy, all that we ate and drank turned out fantastic. The Old Town streets are lined with bistros and restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, from fine dining to fast food. Sea food is superb here, and always check for the local delicacy. Croatian food is said to have influences from many of its neighbours, say for example, Italy and Bosnia. But they have some delectable local cheeses, wines and of course, olive oil. Try their ice creams, too!

  • Game of Thrones locations. And of course Mr.A and I went looking for some of the places that have served as sets or the inspiration behind the sets of Game of Thrones. There are tours that take you around the city and help you with prints of the scenes from the series! We didn’t have time for that.  It was so much more fun to turn a corner and chance upon a structure that was familiar to us from the series! I’ll do another post exclusively on those sites😉

The Flipsides

  • The weather was just not with us today, it rained throughout the day and winds blew strong. There were so many photo fails, too many umbrellas and rain ponchos in our line of sight 😝  Thankfully the two of us were dressed to bear the onslaught and although we ended up destroying one of our umbrellas, we didn’t let the rain dampen (so much pun!!) our spirits 😎

Followed by Croatia Day 2: Split…

Kulturnatten / Stockholm Culture Night

Last Saturday Stockholm celebrated Kulturnatten, the annual Culture Night, when several cultural venues, events and activities are opened up to the public from 18:00 to 24:00. The program boasts of dance workshops, film viewings, photo  & art exhibitions, theatre & opera visits,  among others. And the best part? All free of charge! Mr.A and I went on a spree, enjoying our evening to the fullest. Here’s where we went…

Pitstop #1: Tessinska Palatset & Barouque Gardens. We started at Gamla Stan where the residence of the Governor of Stockholm County invited visitors to view its beautiful rooms and barouque gardens. We returned later again to this place as there was a guided tour of the rooms scheduled for 22:30 in the night.

 

Pitstop #2: Storkyrka or the Great Cathedral in Gamla Stan has been around since 1264. We were lucky to catch a harmonious piano recital, perfectly befitting the serene atmosphere of the church.

Pitstop #3: Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities showcases two sculpture galleries at the Royal Palace. It is one of the oldest museums in Europe,  opened since 1794. These stone figures are displayed today exactly as they were back in the day. The galleries themselves are quite charming, complete with Romanesque pillars, arched roofs and checkered floors.

Pitstop #4: For our next stop we moved to the island of Djurgarden, to the Spritmuseum and the Absolut Art Collection. The museum is housed in an old wooden building by the pier and a drink by the water quite a welcoming option. The art collection was intriguing in itself, each being  collaboration with some artist famous in their own right, ranging from Andy Warhol to Keith Haring to Kenny Scharf.

Pitstop #5: Biologiska Museet was next on the list. This, too, is housed in an ancient looking wooden building. The intricately carved door has always fascinated me, and the interiors impressed me too. The two-storeyed montage of taxidermied animals against a Scandinavian landscape is a great scene for children to learn from. A century-old family of grizzlies is a cool sight too!

Pitstop #6: The Royal Opera building in itself is so amazing. And if you get to not only walk around its gilded halls but also see a show in the main hall for free, that’s what I call a real treat! Perfect ending to our fun night in the city:)

Berlin & remains of the Wall

When Mr.A & I visited Berlin, we wanted to see the Berlin Wall up close. I researched a bit on the internet and found the best suggestion on traveldudes.org. They talk about three spots where the Wall is best preserved. We went to each of them and at each spot one may experience a different feeling.

1. Topography of Terror: 

Websitehttp://www.topographie.de

Address : Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963 Berlin

I shared some pictures from this site in a previous post about exploring Berlin. Topography of Terror is a museum that documents the reign of Hitler through the years and how Germany, and the world at large, was affected by the Nazi era. In fact, the museum stands at approximately the same spot where the Gestapo once had their headquarters. A section of the Berlin Wall still stands before it, a grim reminder of the past. The studies and photos are very detailed and quite an eye-opener even for a well-read traveler. One might come off a bit overwhelmed by this visit.

On a separate note, if you want to rent one of the lockers, make sure you have a €1 coin, the cafeteria will probably not help you out. The closest metro station would be Potsdamer Platz.

2. Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Center: 

Websitehttp://www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de

Address : Bernauer Straße 119, 13355 Berlin

This memorial has a kilometer and a half stretch of the Wall. The events that took place here are documented through pictures and artefacts at the Documentation Center. There are a couple of floors, so allow yourself some time. A watch tower at the Center provides a wider view of the Wall and what used to be two sides of divided Germany. To reach this site, take the metro to Nordbahnhof. Incidentally, Nordbahnhof used to be one of the ghost stations on the Eastern side that were blocked away during the Cold War. The station also has images and stories of how these ghost stations came to be. Mr.A and I felt quite moved with our experience here. It is hard to imagine what it must have been for the people loving here not so far back in the past.

3. East Side Gallery: 

Websitehttp://www.eastsidegallery-berlin.de

Address : Mühlenstraße, 10243 Berlin

The East Side Gallery is often called the longest open air gallery in the world. Here, remains of the Berlin Wall stretch for over a kilometer along the Spree river. Once a symbol of separation, it is now covered with artists’ impressions advocating freedom for everybody. Some paintings have deteriorated over time due to vandalism and erosion, but some work is being done to preserve it, including fences to protect certain parts. To reach the Gallery, one could either hop off at the metro station Ostbahnhof and walk along the wall to the next metro, Warschauer Straße, or vice versa. Walking along the water is also very pleasant. I quite liked this one, given my love for murals, graffiti & street art.

There are, of course, several other places where you may see bits of the wall remaining, but they would be smaller in scale as compared to the spots mentioned above. Have you visited Berlin? Did you make it to any of these memorials? What did you think? I’d love to know!

Weekly Photo Challenge : Dance

 

Dance : In Hindu mythology, Nataraj (or Natraj or Nataraja), the dancing form of Shiva, performs the cosmic dance of destruction. ‘Nataraj’ literally translates to ‘King of Dance’ in Sanskrit, a combination of ‘nata’ meaning dance and ‘raja’ meaning king. Nataraj’s dance symbolises the eternal cycle of destruction and creation. Nataraj represents apocalypse and creation as he dances away a retrograde world, and renews it with power and enlightenment.

This photo was clicked on my birthday this year when I visited the Östasiatiskt (East Asian) museum, in Stockholm.

Drop by to view my previous entries to the Weekly Photo Challenge; I’d love to hear what you think!